Churches and Temples of Amsterdam
Historical churches and places of worship of different religions in the Old City of Amsterdam, certify to the city multicultural traditions. Several among them are worth a visit, as they are not only interesting historical buildings, but also fascinating monuments of art and architecture.
Before the city took the side of the Reformed Protestantism during the religious wars in Europe in 1578, Amsterdam has been an important place for the Catholics, even called by them the Holy City – Heilige Stadt. It is here, that famous in the Middle Ages, Eucharistic miracle, certifying to the presence of Christ took place, in 1345. Since 1881, a silent evening procession, called in Dutch Stille Omgang, celebrated each year on March 15 in Amsterdam, marks the anniversary of this event.
For centuries after the Reformation, the Catholics were not allowed to openly practice their religion. All big churches in Amsterdam - Oude Kerk, Westerkerk and Nieuwekerk were Protestant. While tolerated, Catholic churches were forced to hide, often inside other buildings as in the attic of the canal house in now serving as a museum Our Lord in the Attic Church – today the Amstelkring Museum.
Jewish community always played an important part in life of Amsterdam. Traditionally Jews were supporters of The House of Orange. During the WWII period of 1940 - 1945 and the tragedy of the Holocaust, several Jewish Ashkenazi synagogues were devastated by the Nazis. Some of them have been restored and house today the Jewish History Museum. Amsterdam has also a beautiful old synagogue built for the Portuguese Sephardic population and inaugurated in 1675. The monument has been spared by the Nazis.
The oldest of Amsterdam churches, with its massive volume dominating old houses of the Red Light District. While sober and simple inside, the Oude Kerk, the first parish church of Amsterdam, says a lot about the history of the city. Concerts of its famous organs draw music lovers from all over the world.
This neoclassic basilica with small figures of its patrons on its back wall, was built by Flemish architect Tilman-François Suys the Elder for the Catholics, on the site of the previously secret Catholic Church. Inaugurated in 1841, with the figure of Christ on the top of its tympanum, Franciscan Order shield at the front, and the Latin text dedicating the church to its patrons and to Christ, the Mozes and Aaron Church – Dutch: Mozes en Aäronkerk, became one of the characteristic buildings of the city. Desecrated in 1969, it serves today as an exhibition space and as such is often the venue for the World Peace initiatives.
Location: Waterlooplein 207
Originally built in the 14th century, this old church was at the time a second parish church of Amsterdam, along with Oude Kerk. Now the Nieuwe Kerk is the most important church of the Netherlands, because since 1814, all Dutch monarchs have been crowned here. Many important exhibitions and musical concerts also take place in the Nieuwe Kerk.
Location: Dam, to the right from the Royal Palace.
Surrounded by the traditional markets, Noordermarkt - biological food market and Westerstraat market, built between 1620 - 1623, Noorderkerk – Northern Church - serves until today as the Calvinist place of worship. Beautifully restored in the years 1989 - 2005, Noorderkerk is also the venue for the traditional concerts – Noorderkerkconcerten, each Saturday afternoon.
Location: Noordermarkt 44 - 48.
Historically the first Protestant church in the city, inaugurated in 1610, Zuiderkerk – the Southern Church - has been desecrated in 1929, and serves now as a municipality information centre. During the tourist season, its tower may be climbed offering the nice view on canals and old houses of the area.
Location: Zuidekerkhof 72.
Biggest church in the Netherlands with a high bell tower located just at the waters of Prinsengracht canal, it became one of Amsterdam symbols. Recently renewed, the Westerkerk - Western Church - reminds the visitor of glory days of Amsterdam during the Golden Age.
Location: Prinsengracht 281.
Our Lord in the Attic church
Located on the edge of the Red Light District in the attic of the canal house, this hidden Catholic church together with adjoining museum rich in striking interiors and many artefacts document times when Catholics were discriminated in Amsterdam – now the Museum Our Lord in the Attic The discrimination ended during the Napoleon reign and the Batavian Republic, therefore several Catholic Churches were built in Amsterdam in the 19th century.
Location: Oudezijds Voorburwal 40.
Big Synagogue and Jewish Historical Museum
The Big Synagogue of Amsterdam which opened in 1671, together with three adjoining synagogues built for the Ashkenazi Jews in the 17th and 18th centuries, were devastated during the WWII 1940 - 1945. They are today restored and adapted to serve as the Jewish Historical Museum. The museum offers also interesting shows of Jewish artists and exhibits on history of Jews.
Location: Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1 (close to Waterlooplein)
Inspired by the Temple of Salomon in Jerusalem, the Portuguese Synagogue also called Esnoga or Snoge, from Judeo-Spanish: אסנוגה, was designed by Elias Bouman and built for the Sephardic Jews in the years 1670 - 1675. Miraculously saved during the German occupation of the WWII, the Portuguese Synagogue is today one of the most beautiful shrines in Amsterdam and a unique monument of Jewish culture. Location: Mr.Visserplein 3